I have been a triathlete now for over 5 years and it was one of the best choices I have ever made. I love triathlon. I love the feeling of being in shape and feeling fit; also being outside with nature is amazing. So I wanted to share some of my triumphs and trials of being a black girl who does triathlon
I believe intently looking back at the past in order to prepare us for the future will help us more than getting wrapped up in the emotions of New Year’s Eve. I want to share a few intangibles of 2015 that I couldn’t quite put on a vision board but were more valuable than anything I could have ever asked for.
They were the wrong reasons for juice fasting because they had nothing to do with jumpstarting my heath or spiritual vitality but they were purely vain and based on a negative body image I was battling.
If I could go back in time and teach my younger self anything it would be the value of knowing my worth. And not an overly inflated and superficial worth that is based in my appearance, possessions or status but a worth that is entrenched in God’s values. Understanding my worth has been vital in how I engage with other people and specifically how I operate in romantic relationships. I always felt in the past I had to prove who I was to my love interest, like I was trying out for America’s Next Top Model and it was my job to make them see my awesomeness. I’ve exhausted myself slaving over the stove making opulent meals, wearing clothes that accentuated my best assets, writing dissertations to prove my intellect and so many more over the top ridiculous behaviors I engaged in to show off my value.
I am not sure if it has been age and experience or truly coming into a closer relationship with God but today I fully understand my worth. I understand that a good man already sees a good woman for who she truly is without the dog and pony show. Furthermore, If I truly trusted God, not passive aggressively trusted God (that’s a whole other blog post) than I wouldn’t feel the need to help God out when it came to my love life (Proverbs 3:5). There is so much rest and peace found in allowing God to take control, following the promptings of the Holy Spirit and standing on God’s word. I am not going to lie though it is difficult to be still when you are 30+ and feel like your biological clock is ticking and see everyone around you in marital bliss – I know. However, I came to the realization that God’s best for me in this very moment in time is singleness; and I am at peace knowing that.
By sitting at the feet of God in prayer, reading scripture and listening to his voice I’ve begin to understand who I truly am. I am beloved and treasured by God (Philippians 4:8); I am full of the Holy Spirit’s power and strength (1 Corinthians 3:16); I have the ability to give supernatural love and joy to all those I encounter (Galatians 5:22); I am humble and compassionate (Colossians 3:12); I am generous and kind (Ephesians 2:10); I am wise and hardworking ( 1 Corinthians 1:30); I am the righteous of God through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21); I am free (Galatians 5:1). These are the things that are the fiber of my being, they are the very best of everything I have to offer those in my life and specifically my future partner. You can not purely see these qualities in a tight skirt or a well cooked meal; you need God’s lenses to see my real worth.
Understanding your worth allows you to walk through life with confidence, knowing that no one can belittle or steal your very best because it comes from God. You begin to filter love interest better because if someone can not see your spiritual self then how can they love you for who you truly are. You begin to feel whole and complete knowing that it is not another person that completes you but it is God. Finally, you listen and engage with humility knowing that all of your greatness is available to anyone who accepts Christ as their savior.
So stop working hard to prove to someone how great you are; those who are supposed to see it will recognize it without all your work. Be still.
I spent a good enough portion of my life in this perpetual merry-go-round of faith. I would go to church on Sunday and have this amazing experience in worship. I sang all the songs, I cried, laughed and left feeling inspired and encouraged by the word. I wouldn't pull out of the parking lot sometimes before that euphoric spiritual high settled and I was back to getting road rage on the way home, texting a boyfriend to come over and fool around or talking badly behind a friend's back. What happened? I went from being on top of the world to going back to many of the habits I was repenting for that very Sunday. After years of this behavior I subconsciously began to place little value on God and the church experience. I believed that church didn't matter because I was not changed; furthermore God always forgives so there was no need to change.
Looking back I didn't understand how to apply my Sunday experience to my everyday life. I knew that God wanted more from my life but I didn't know how to make that happened. My everyday life and Sunday seemed so disconnected. Now that I have grown in faith and I wanted to share how to worship God during the rest of the week.
1) Study the scripture from Sunday's message. Studying the Bible can be daunting however, a simple way to get started is by studying the scriptures referenced in Sunday's message. I used to take notes and never look at it again, but now I look through my notes throughout the week and reflect on the scriptures mentioned. You may gain a whole new perspective on what was being discussed, additionally most Bibles will show a cross reference scripture. You can study the context in which the scripture was written, what was going on during that time and who the author was -the possibilities are endless. Studying what was discussed gives you greater revelation and allows you to be closer in line to the heart of what your Pastor/leader is trying to impart on your local body of Christ.
2) Carve out daily praise and worship time with God. I can be at home getting ready for work, having a quiet moment after dinner or in my car; but I daily have this moment of praise toward God. I typically will put on music and sing out loud, worshiping the same as I would do on a Sunday. This practice has become a habit and it has shown me that church is much bigger than a building it is a mindset. That we are always connected to Jesus he is always there and when we take that time to praise him he fills our hearts with so much joy. This time you carve out doesn't have to be perfect or for a set amount of time God will honor your endeavor to find the time.
3) Living a mission minded life. We often think of mission work as some far removed ministry that happens overseas and has nothing to do with our daily lives. However, you can “do missions” right where you live. One of the biggest eye opening things I learned on a recent mission trip to India that mission work was as simple as every day conversations. I believe that God has placed so many people around us who need to hear the gospel, who are lost and depressed, who could use encouragement and support and the list goes on. Open up your heart and your eyes to these needs. The more you steward the needs of those God has placed in your path the more he will increase your territory.
4) Stop putting your leader on a pedestal. For many years I looked up to the leadership in the various churches I attended and thought: “They are so holy, I could never be like that.” Maybe you aren't as negative, but the point is I put them in this whole new realm of humanity in my mind; I distanced that person's character from everyday life. I didn't realize that these leaders struggle just as I do, they have challenges and must make choices every day. I realized that the same grace that gave my leaders spiritual eloquence and fortitude was available to me. I began to recognize the humanity of these people and that their lives were a result of God’s grace.
5) God is concerned with every aspect of your life. I used to think that God just cared how I was in church and how good I was to the outside. However, through study I began to realize that He was concerned with every aspect of my life, I couldn't just give him a corner and say “work with that” I had to give it all to him. That mindset helped me acknowledge God when I brushed my teeth, while I was exercising or making dinner; his will for my life became entrenched in the details. Living like this creates no room for separation between you and God. You will create this on-going dialogue throughout the day with God that will sustain you and guide your actions.
I pray that these points encourage someone who is trying to apply the word on Sunday to their everyday life. Get determined about living a life where your spiritual tank is not on E, and by the time Sunday rolls around you are spiritually dehydrated. Christ died so we can have this fullness of life – so take it!
We all have dreams for our lives. Whether it is to work for a desired company, get married, have children or start our own business; we all know what it is like to desire something that we do not have. Our heart’s desires are placed there by God, for a reason and a purpose. When life doesn’t resemble our dreams that is when the true spiritual work begins.
It is very difficult in our society to balance this spiritual growth with cultural norms. Our culture believes we can achieve anything we want if we just work hard, meet the right people, have the right plans and get put in the right place. Those things encapsulate what is known as “our ability”. However, how do we fulfill a God given desire with the parameters of “our ability”? The answer is we don’t. See things like working hard, meeting the right people, having the right plans and being in the right place are all well and good but one thing we don’t realize is that God is not limited to our grind. God is not on our time schedule, He doesn’t work within in the rules of our society, He doesn’t not bless us according to the way we think we should be blessed.
This is a hard pill to swallow if you are an A-typer like myself. I set goals, make plans, remain disciplined, network and then boom the goal is finished - I AM BLESSED #POW. Yes, I have a litany of different goal reaching things I have achieved in my life that were awesome and wonderful, but it is those deep seeded God given dreams that I find that can’t be reached with the same rationale. As I look over the course of my life the moments when God has turned up and blessed me in a way that I only knew was Him, were moments where I had to take a seat. They were moments where I had to remain faithful to the little that God had given me, not knowing how or when my prayer was going to get answered. I remember I was working at my current job in a clerical position which I was very over qualified for since I have an advanced degree. I struggled so much, with very little salary and just heartache because I couldn’t understand why God would have me there. I went on a bunch of job interviews and nothing was panning out. I was so unhappy, and I remember God saying so clearly to me that I needed to submit to the situation and be content. Within months of deciding to do my job with joy and stop worrying, a position opened up right in that very company where I would be leading the entire organization- and I got it! At the time I couldn’t see the complete picture of what God was doing but I am thankful that I trusted His guidance and allowed Him to prepare me for what was to come.
As excited as I was to see God work this way in my life, I still struggle with waiting on God to manifest my dreams. It is easy in the throws of everyday life to get discouraged, to want to go out ahead of God, or to be bitter and unmotivated until it happens. However, we can’t get mad at what we can’t control and furthermore God has entrusted us with something right now we need to be faithful in. If you are looking for a promotion as a boss be an excellent employee; if you are looking for your dream home make your apartment a sanctuary; if your desire is for children why not give selflessly to children who are in need or don’t have a home; if you dream of having a big ministry why not be faithful in the aspects of that ministry God gives you everyday; if you are looking to get married why not hang out with some lonely people to bring them joy … There are so many opportunities God puts around us to prepare us for what is in our hearts. If we focused on what we CAN do and give God what we CAN’T we will remain fulfilled. We won’t have to compare, get mad or lose our joy when things don’t go our way because our dreams are not in our hands they are in His.
This reminds me of Joseph in Genesis chapter 37. From the time Joseph was sold into slavery at 17 (Genesis 37:2) to the time he was appointed at age 30 by Pharaoh to be second in command over all of Egypt (Genesis 41:1) was a total of 13 years. Years he spent with an awesome gift in exile, being lied about and serving time in jail. All situations from the outside that looked dismal but to God looked like preparation. So don’t fret- be encouraged! Stop focusing on your circumstances or how far you are from your dream, place your dream in His loving hands and allow Him to work.
How have you allowed God to take care of your dream? How are you remaining faithful in the task you have at hand? Share you story in the comments and encourage someone!